Video Editing. How Hard Could It Be?
[by Barry Schwartz]
OK, not a good question, with more than one answer. I’ve looked at a lot of videos in recent years done by still photographers. Early efforts can show a couple of classic problems.
Falling in love with a picture. With still images, no one is forcing the viewer to look at it, and you can move onto the next picture easily. Video, not so much – the viewer is at the mercy of pacing and content: editing. If an image is not compelling and you don’t move away from it in time, you’ve begun to lose the viewer. Not every sequence needs to be edited like an ADHD-like MTV spot, but it does need to step right along.
Where a single image can tell a story, a video develops into a compelling story over time; each image supports the video by relating what came before to what’s coming after: editing again. Ideally, as they say, the viewer shouldn’t even notice the editing; the analog is of a great still image where the viewer doesn’t particularly think about how it got done, but reacts viscerally to what they see. In video, you shouldn’t notice the editing, it should be a seamless part of the experience.
Then there’s sound. By now it’s axiomatic that video without good audio is worthless. What is good audio? Could be music, a voiceover, ambient sound, talking heads, all of the above and more. Those choices – and how they are edited – are crucial.
For instance, I’ve seen any number of videos containing long pans of beautiful landscapes with a soundtrack seemingly gotten from a website that provides nondescript music for videos, thereby helping turn good video into nondescript video. It’s also axiomatic that you get what you pay for. There’s a reason that “music supervisor” is a professional category; not to mention editing – sound editing.
On the other hand, what a good still photographer brings to video is the ability to skillfully frame and light a picture – it’s no accident that many fine cinematographers and videographers began as (and remain) still photographers, and that’s a good place to start.